In my last post in this series, I discussed how everything God said and did pointed toward the coming of Jesus Christ. He was the Offspring of Abraham in whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. He was the Son of David who would forever reign. In Christ, the history of Israel, in particular, and of the human race in general comes to a climax. With the coming of Jesus Christ, God was now ready to perform the ultimate act of putting things right.
The death of Jesus Christ on the Cross was God’s first step in setting things back the way they ought to be. There are three very important things that happened when Christ died.
- Judgment on the world.
27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. John 12:27 – 33
Through His death on the Cross, Jesus Christ took away the legal grounds for the devil’s reign of terror. This can only be understood as we look at the next two points.
- Reconciliation of all things.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:15 – 20
Christ’s shed Blood made it possible for everything to be brought back to God that had been separated from Him through sin. But that’s not all.
- He is our Exodus!
13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13 – 14
As surely as God acted mightily through Moses to deliver the people of Israel from the oppressive reign of Pharaoh, He also acted mightily through the Cross to deliver us from the oppressive reign of Satan himself. This was possible because our sins could be put out of the way and we could be brought back into a full relationship with God. The ruler of this world was indeed driven out through the Christ’s death on the Cross.
While Christ’s death on the Cross provides the foundation for God to set all things back in order, His resurrection is His beginning at doing that. Again, there are three important things we need to consider.
- He could not be held by death.
22 “You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— 23 this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24 But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. Acts 2:22 – 24
Christ, having no sin of His own, was not under the jurisdiction of death like the rest of humanity. Death had no legal grounds for holding Him. His resurrection from the dead revealed that the power of death had been broken.
- The firstfruits of the new creation.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21 For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22 for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:20 – 23
The resurrection of Jesus Christ points to a day when death will be obliterated. This will happen when He returns as King of kings and Lord of lords.
- He makes us new creations.
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 2 Corinthians 5:16 – 17
The moment we surrender the Jesus Christ, the triumph of His death and resurrection becomes ours. The old enslavement to sin and death passes away. We come alive to a new relationship with God, and a glorious future in view.
Now, let’s look at one more thing.
It’s unfortunate that the ascension of Jesus Christ does not receive more attention. This experience also plays a vital role in the whole of God’s story. Here again we want to look at three important truths.
- Seated at God’s right hand.
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. Mark 16:19
When He left this earth, Jesus was enthroned at God’s right hand. Throughout the story, God’s right hand has always represented His favor, power, and authority. This means that Jesus has been seated in the highest place possible. He truly reigns as Lord!
- He sent back the Holy Spirit.
Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. Acts 2:33
True to His word, Jesus sent back the Holy Spirit to empower His followers to carry on His mission. The coming of the Holy Spirit is clear evidence that Jesus did indeed ascend back into the Presence of the Heavenly Father.
- He is waiting.
12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God,” 13 and since then has been waiting “until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.” Hebrews 10:12 – 13
While He is actively reigning over His people, Jesus is also waiting for the time when His Father will send Him back to claim the kingdoms of this world as His own. He will then usher in the new age of God’s Kingdom. Until that day, we watch and wait with Him.
The Stage is Set
Through His death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus Christ made the way for humanity to fulfill God’s original vision. Because of His first appearing, we live in the tension between two ages with a new identity and a new mission. We will look more at this in the next post. It will give us a greater understanding of what it means for us to be living in the Reign.
The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.